Saturday, December 15, 2007


“I know
I'm gonna crash hard from this one.”

Dustin Bentall, Crash Hard, 2007

We just do what we do to help us forget. This type of tie-up. This kind of enmeshment. This awkward tangle of arms, and backs, and lips, and necks in the crushed corner of a claustrophobic, vinyl-clad booth at the back of a hole-in-the-wall bar. These are the times we remember. These are the times which we use to forget – one another.

These are not replacements. These times, these scenes, are not surrogates for the memories we made together. These short, sharp breaths in the ears of another are not stand-ins for what we once shared. No, these women are not replacements for you – but they do help me forget. Medicinal: they help me move on.

My arm slips effortlessly between the small of a feminine back and the gaucheness of torn, red vinyl. Smiles come easy now, even if they are induced. Words come even easier, even if they are not our own. She smells a little like you, and that'll do. Crashing waves of booze and smoke. Little ripples of strawberry and lemon twist. I say something half funny, and she laughs, a drunken giggle into her gin and tonic. Ice cubes clink coldly against glass, and I tell her we should take a walk. Find a quieter place to talk. To get to know each other.

And we wake late in the morning tangled in strange sheets. A harsh sun spears through a split in the drapes, and we concern ourselves with plans to let each other off easy; plans dampened by these mortal wounds. Aches in our heads, shades of black beneath our eyes, and guilt in our hearts.

Songs still play from the night before, while sketchy memories shake loose from jagged barbs of debauchery in our cavernous minds. Shaky images slipping from Jäger stalactites, building up in towering gin stalagmites. A haunted beat echoes maddeningly, resounding from the taut skins of a thousand primeval drums. We both know the other hears it, and neither can look the other in the eyes. Instead, there's an inelegant pulling on of rumpled trousers. A graceless fixing of hair. An artless goodbye. This, the parting of two strangers: a meaningless kiss across the threshold of a cheap motel in the crass morning light.

The worst part, I suppose, is not the regret associated with this long line of such insubstantial trysts. No. Nor is it the dead feeling brought about when one leaves his dignity on a barroom floor, or the empty spot where my heart used to be. The worst part, the very worst part of this whole thing is that it never makes me forget what we once had. You're never too far away.

I flag a cab, and tell the driver to take me home, and he asks me a question which doesn't seem to agree with me. My stomach turns as he steps on the gas, and it's all I can do do avoid retching onto the floor.

“Just waking up or going to bed?”

I take a few moments to compose myself, and to tumble the question about in my head. One hand clutches my stomach while the other covers my mouth, and I blink furiously to clear my watering eyes.

“I don't know,” I say at last. “I don't really know, but I'm hoping to hell it's the former.”

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